The risk of BIA-ALCL is incredibly rare (your risk is 1 in a million per year) and the treatment is very effective!

This blog is the help those women frightened by the recent KTBS news report:

Three Local Women Say Their Breast Implants Are Making Them Sick By Brenda Teele.

Many women have called the office worried about health risks and breast implants.  The flurry of calls started after a recent local news report. Many thought that implants cause breast cancer. Perhaps the reporters need to cram an array of different implant associated problems into a short 5 minute segment added to the confusion.  This generated fear in the minds of these women with breast implants.

The news segment was not completely factual.

I’ll explain the history, risk and therapy related to BIA-ALCL.  Perhaps this will calm the unnecessary, unwarranted and mislead fears.  I will discuss BII, Breast Implant Illnesses at a later date.

Four false statements to correct:

  1. BREAST IMPLANTS DO NOT INCREASE THE RISK OF COMMON BREAST CANCER!! No implant-related studies demonstrate an increase risk for common breast cancer.
  2. BIA-ALCL IS NOT A BREAST CANCER!(I’m assuming the reporter believes this, in some form or fashion, because “Breast Cancer” was listed twice on her graphics.) BIA-ALCL is a cancer of the immune system not breast tissue.  It is associated with the fibrous shell the body naturally builds around any breast implant or medical device.
  3. The largest breast implants study involving 100,000 women presented to the FDA in 2010, did not dismiss rare diseases, immune related disease or a women’s health and well being. It was the focus of the study.
  4. There is no increase risk of spontaneous abortion or miscarriages, Lyme disease or Epstein Bar Virus with breast implants.

Facts About BIA-ALCL

* BIA-ALCL is incredibly rare.

* BIA-ALCL is not a type breast cancer.

* BIA-ALCL is not the same as the “typical” ALCL (Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma)

* If you were every diagnosed with BIA-ALCL, in the majority of cases, it is curable and only 2% of patients may require chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

BIA-ALCL is incredibly rare and is not a cancer of the breast

The first case of BIA-ALCL was reported in 1997.  Since that time, WORLDWIDE, there are less than 650 cases identified.  There were 12 related deaths.  That averages out to about 27 cases world wide per year since 1997.

In contrast, it is estimated that 331,00 new case of breast cancer, invasive and noninvasive, will be discovered in the United States in 2019.  Your chances are 11,000 times greater for developing breast cancer than BIA-ALCL.

Your chance of developing BIA-ALCL is 1 in a 1,000,000 each year or 1 in 30,000 over your lifetime.

Your chance of developing breast cancer in your lifetime is 1 in 8.

The local news report falsely implied that breast implants increased the risk of breast cancer.  It is wrong and irresponsible on many levels.  To many women have either experienced or have witnessed family members suffer and succumb to the ravages of breast cancer.  In their mind’s breast cancer is related to BIA-ALCL. The calls to the office told me that the report welled up painful and agonizing experiences for the sake of news related “shock” value.

Over 10 million breast implant have been used for reconstructive and cosmetic reasons worldwide.   In the United State 300,000 implants are used per year for cosmetic reasons and 100,000 are used for reconstruction.  Worldwide 1.5 million implants are used each year.

All current cases of BIA-ALCL are found in women, except for one transgender.  The great majority of the implants were textured shelled implants. A textured implant have a rough surface. This allows it to “stick” to the normal scar capsule around the implant.  This scar tissue is not abnormal. It develops around ALL types of medical implants, i.e. breast implants, pacemakers, joints and any other material embedded in soft tissues.  Most cases were silicone gel implants and a few were saline implants.  (It is not clear whether the saline implants were exchanged for textured silicone gel implants removed in the 1990’s or early 2000’s.   Many women exchanged their silicone gel implants for saline implants during this time because of fears generated by Connie Chung’s news report related to the older models of silicone gel implants.)  BIA-ALCL starts in normal or thickened fibrous scar tissue.  Common breast cancer start is breast tissue no in fibrous tissue.

BIA-ALCL is not the same as “typical” ALCL (Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma).

Typically ALCL is a rare aggressive cancer of the immune system.   It can spread throughout the body.  It always requires chemotherapy and in many cases radiation therapy.  It has a significant death rate.

BIA_ALCL is rare, typically nonaggressive and curable in the majority of cases.

BIA-ALCL is localized to the fibrous capsule around a texture breast implant.

In most cases, symptoms begin with spontaneous fluid collection around the implant and swelling of the breast.   On average the fluid appears 7 to 10 years after the implantation.  In a few documented cases swelling began couple of years after implantation. Swelling and redness can be seen and must be distinguished from an infection.  Sometime a mass can be felt in the tissues.

Removing the implant and the scar tissue around the implant cures 97% of cases.  No chemotherapy or radiation therapy is necessary in these cases. Only 1% of cases require chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Research has been looking into the potential causes of this rare disease.  However, since the numbers of cases are incredibly small it will probably take some time to find the answer.

This information should calm the fears generated by the local news report.   Also, I felt the video implied that the plastic surgery community and medical community are dismissive of the health issues of women who have breast implants.  That simply is not true.

If you or someone you know has questions about their implants, feel free to Contact Us or call (318) 219-8555.

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